How can writers use grammar?

In this blog’s discussions of grammar and usage issues, we’ve looked at a wide variety of areas, including usage conventions, grammatical and punctuation “errors,” the history and evolving nature of the English language, and approaches to understanding its grammar. These considerations are necessarily brief, rather than comprehensive. But the goal has been to provide recommendations …

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History of English Grammar Instruction – An Overview

This post presents a brief overview of the history of English grammar instruction. I recently heard a discussion of how young people – Millennials and Generation Z – have not been taught American history, do not know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. I don’t know about this “decline” in …

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Brief history of English and its influence

In continuing the discussion of English grammar and language, this post examines how and why the English Language became perhaps the most influential linguistic medium the work has ever known. In addition to being the dominant language of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and various island nations in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific …

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Why study grammar?

In two earlier posts, we examined the grammar of the English sentence – both the unconscious knowledge of native speakers (What is grammar?) and the conscious application of grammar to the analysis of sentences through diagramming or linguistic trees (Parsing the English Sentence). Because native English speakers follow the rules of English grammar mostly unconsciously, …

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Parsing* the English Sentence

*parse (pars) v. tr. 1. To break (a sentence) down into its component parts of speech with an explanation of the form, function, and syntactical relationship of part. 2. To describe (a word) by stating its part of speech, form, and syntactical relationships in a sentence. (The American Heritage Dictionary, 2nd College Edition) We’ve discussed …

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Problems with plurals and possessives

What problems can a writer have with plurals and possessives? We discussed some problems with plurals and possessives, such as the previous posts on possessive/reflexive pronouns and on the use of the apostrophe. The rule for making singular nouns plural or possessive is pretty straightforward: add s or es or ies, depending on the ending …

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Hisself vs. himself, theirselves vs. themselves, and other reflexive pronoun problems

Pronouns can cause writers problems, as we have seen in two previous posts on vague pronoun reference and on pronoun antecedent agreement. The pronouns we’ll be examining in this post are called reflexive pronouns. As with many of the words we’ve discussed in this space, these pronouns have varied histories and spellings, as well as …

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